Flex shaft for everything?


I am wondering if I would be able to get by grinding, sanding, and
polishing stones and metal (silver) on a flex shaft like I would a
lapidary maching with arbors and wheels? I am cramped for space and
that is why I would like to do it this way. I am saving up money to
purchase these items but would like to see if anyone has an opinion if
it would actually work. If anyone has any pointers, tips or even
recommendations on what in their opinion is the best flex shaft to
use for metal and stone or tools (bits, buffs etc.) to use with them
it would be greatly appreciated. Or just to tell me its not possible
;). I will be buying my materials from the Rio Grande cataloge most

Feel free to email me privately as well if you prefer.


Thank you,


For most lapidary applications, using a flex shaft to grind, shape
and polish a stone would be awkward and frustrating, but it can be
just the thing for carving fire agates. To carve fire agates, you will
need a diamond burr and diamond paste in grits ranging from 325 to
50,000. Most carvers use phenolic points, but you can get by cheaper
by making your own points out of wood dowel, or, you can use felt
bullets. I use felt and I think it does better than the phenolic

For sanding and polishing silver, the flexshaft is not the fastest
option but it does get the job done. I like the cratex-type
abrasive-impregnated wheels for sanding. For a rich, matte finish you
can forgo polishing and finish your piece with a brash brush in dish
soap and water.

Lee Einer

Dear Luna CowGirl:

Flexshaft is pretty essential for jewelry work at a modern bench,
but, aside from repolishing small stones that have minor scratches,
the flexshaft would be too slow for grinding and polishing cabs
routinely. Unfortunately, it is an added expense, but a small Genie
type unit or a horizontal shaft machine (home built) would be the
minimum for stone work. Of course, faceting would require a faceting
machine. The flexshaft is a good choice for gemstone carving, but,
as you can imagine, that’s a slow process anyway. If cash is short,
the horizontal shaft machine requires only a washing machine type
motor (under $30, used), pulleys, a belt, an arbor, and a box to put
it all in. If you found a shaded pole motor, you could use a
rheostat or motor speed controller to get different speeds. If you
are a good scrounger, you could get away for well under $100. Laps
are silicon carbide paper and felt or pellon for polish. If you need
more help, email me or this forum.